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21 - 27 Apr , 2012
expertadviceHeart TO Heart
For relationship advice and more, talk to your super-smart Sis.

Q: Mine is an age-old situation. I have fallen in love with my best friend's boyfriend. The more she tells me about him, the more I feel that I am better suited for him than she is. He is besotted with her but I know that if I turn on my charm, he will be in my grasp. What is holding me back is the idea that my friend will be grief-stricken if I do this. I will lose my best friend but I will gain a great boyfriend. Should I not think of my happiness too? Ayesha Ali, Lahore
You are well within your rights to woo this guy and deceive your best friend. After all, if he does get attracted to you, she is better off without this weak-minded chap who drops her as soon as another girl winks at him. Does that not make you think too that he is liable to ditch you also for another girl? After all, he too can play by your rules, can't he? In truth, what you want to do is ethically wrong, underhand and unscrupulous. You can never build your own home on the ruins of another's. If you have any conscience, you will be unable to live with yourself. Your friend's circle too will shun you. So think hard EXPERT ADVICEand deep before you do anything.

Q: I am a 14-year-old girl who has a habit of writing her innermost thoughts in a diary. Last week, I was shocked to find my mother reading the diary. When I yelled at her, she said she, as a mother, has every right to do this and that I should not keep any secrets from her. She left me very upset and disturbed. Is she right? Aelia Saad, Karachi
Frankly, no! No one has the right to intrude on another's personal space or privacy, even if that person is a child. Perhaps, your mother sincerely feels that there is nothing wrong with what she did. It is simply her point of view, but your anguish and affront is very understandable.
A suggestion: never leave your personal diary, or any other thing, around the room where anyone can take it. Keep your things locked in your cupboard without making a big issue of this. There are some cute diaries which come with a locking strap system. This is ideal for diary enthusiasts.

Q: I was always a mild-tempered girl but nowadays I am always on a short fuse. The smallest thing makes me blow my top. I am myself surprised by this. Why am I so irritable? I am 14 years old. Fabiya, Karachi
The turbulent teen years can make a youngster quite irritable and crabby. Blame it on the influx of hormones which flood her or his body at this time. You may also find yourself disturbed by unusual feelings, of attractions towards boys, or rebellion against authority, a desire to make your own decisions without feeling hemmed in by others' views. These are all characteristics of a youngster on the threshold of becoming an adult. Relax, stop feeling guilty or blaming yourself. Recognise it as a part of growing up. If your irritability is accompanied by fatigue and drowsiness, you could be anaemic. See your doctor to find out if you need a pick-me-up.

Q: I am a 15-year-old girl who has a sleep problem. I cannot get to sleep till about 2 o'clock in the morning, and then, I have to get up at six to get ready for school. Due to this, I feel tired and drained, and fall asleep in class even during an exam. The doctor says that there is nothing wrong with me, and refuses to give me a sleeping pill. He wants me to relax and take things easy. I am desperate. Please help. Sara
Adolescence is a difficult time of changes and adjustments, and this can cause a lot of invisible stress and anxiety in youngsters. Stress, an overactive mind, anxiety, so many things can keep sleep off from sensitive minds. First of all, stop worrying over your insomnia as this itself can keep off sleep. A little sleep deprivation will not harm you. Stop drinking stimulants like tea, coffee and even aerated drinks completely. Learn meditation techniques from a yoga teacher. Avoid watching TV or reading gripping books at bedtime. Make a quiet routine for turning in, this should help you to sleep better. If nothing helps, consult a sleep expert who will try to adjust your circadian cycles with some scientific methods.

Dr Shah Hussain

Q: I am a 14-year-old girl. My mother always tells me to put on a sunscreen while going out. Why is it important to protect your skin from the sun's rays? Huma Amin, Karachi
Over exposure to the sun can harm the skin and result in burns, photo-ageing (damage to the skin caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation), which leads to wrinkles particularly on the face, and, possibly, skin cancer. It is, therefore, necessary to protect yourself from the sun. To minimise damage, EXPERT ADVICEavoid exposure to the sun, especially between 9am and 3pm when the sun is at its peak. In addition to applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen which protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF that is suitable for your skin type when going outdoors, it is advisable to wear sunglasses and to carry an umbrella to protect your face and hair from the sun.

Q: Which skin care products are safe for children and those with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema? Zehra Qureshi, Lahore
It is recommended to use a sunscreen that contains a mineral filter like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide because it forms a barrier against the sun's rays and starts protecting your skin as soon as you apply it. The sunscreen should also have a very high level of UVB and UVA protection and be water resistant. It is also important to choose a fragrance-free and hypollaergenic sun screen to prevent skin irritation.

Q: If you're suffering from sun damage what products can you use? Laika, Islamabad
It depends on the type and extent of the damage. For burns you can use lotions or creams that contain enoxolone (a compound derived from the root of liquorice), rhamnose (a sugar obtained from poison sumac) and vitamin E, because they help soothe and hydrate the skin. In some cases corticosteroid creams can be applied directly to the sunburn to reduce inflammation and help the skin tissue heal. For severe burns, you may need to receive corticosteroids in the form of pills or injections. If you get hyper-pigmentation you can use whitening creams, chemical peels or even bleaching agents under the supervision of a dermatologist. To reduce the effects of photo-ageing you may require procedures that act on wrinkles and fine lines. In the case of severe damage you can opt for laser surgery.

Q: Can you please advise as to what should be taken into consideration when buying sun care products? Fariyaal Khwaja, Karachi
Always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It will also protect you from the burning and ageing effects of the sun. It is also important to choose a sunscreen that is suitable for your skin type: for oily skin, select a fluid or ultra-fluid texture; for normal skin, choose a spray or a light cream; and for dry skin, a rich cream.

General Physician
Dr Sadqa Gul

Q: My spine is curving and for the last 3 weeks I've had dreadful pain in my lower back, hips and shins. My x-rays showed little space for my hips to move in the sockets. I also have chondromalacia of the patella and had my left kneecap removed last year. Am I possibly looking at more surgery, like hip replacements? My physiotherapist won't touch me until I've seen my orthopaedic surgeon, but I'm afraid he won't do much, as he was on holidays when this happened. What do you think? Please advise. Shamim Ahmed, Karachi
The sign you refer to on your hip x-rays is technically referred to as "loss of joint space" and is a feature of osteoarthritis of the hip. The hip joint is an example of a ball and socket joint where the ball refers to the rounded head of the femur or thighbone and the socket refers to the cup shaped socket in the pelvis into which the head of the femur fits. The opposing surfaces of the ball and socket are covered with a layer of shiny lubricated cartilage that allows one surface to glide over the other. This material is not radio-opaque, which means that it is invisible on the x-ray and in the case of a normal hip x-ray a gap is clearly visible between the surfaces of the ball and socket. In the case of significant osteoarthritis this covering material has been eroded and the gap between the ball and socket disappears. This results in one rough surface of bone grating off the other, which gives rise to the pain and stiffness we associate with arthritis. 'Loss of joint space' is a cardinal feature of osteoarthritis of the hip. The possibility certainly exists that you may need a hip replacement and the orthopaedic surgeon is the best person to advise you on this matter. I would suggest that you see the specialist and get his opinion on what needs to be done.
If you want to discuss problems related to skin, hair and nails or if you have any health related queries that need to be answered, or if an onerous emotional problem is weighing you down, share it with us at askexpert@magtheweekly.com. Kindly mention your age and the column you have the question for in the subject line.

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